The Australian Gliders have secured one win and one loss in the first two days of competition at the 2019 International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) Asia-Oceania Championships in Thailand.
A slow start in their opening game against Japan saw Japan take an early 10-2 lead at quarter-time.
However, those nerves had eased by the end of the second quarter, and Annabelle Lindsay hit a series of impressive shots with the support of teammate Amber Merritt.
The Gliders went on to take the quarter 16-4, leading at half-time by four points, thanks to a strong defence that allowed for easy transition basketball.
Teisha Shadwell joined the game in the second term, with some nice finishes, and Georgia Inglis began settling into a good tempo.
The Australian defence held strong, and the Gliders were able to push out to a double-digit lead at three-quarter-time, finishing 50-33.
The Gliders had a hard task ahead of them facing top-ranked side China, who finished in the top four at the 2018 IWBF Wheelchair Basketball World Championships.
Opening with a 7-0 start to the game, the Australians looked to be the team to beat, with talented plays from both Inglis and Shadwell.
However, China fought their way back into the game and had levelled the scores by the end of the first quarter.
Merritt kick-started the Australian offence in the second quarter with two quick baskets, pushing the Gliders into the lead.
But China started to take control of the game with superior shooting and execution in the offence, and the Gliders struggled to find high percentage options. This control from China put them eight points in front at half-time.
The third quarter saw China continue their strong form, taking their lead out to 10 points, before the Gliders reeled off the next five scores, slowly closing the deficit.
Merritt and Lindsay found some form alongside Sarah Vinci and Hannah Dodd, and the Australians trailed by just three points at the third break.
This set up a big final quarter, and with five minutes to go of the game, the scores were level.
Despite costly turnovers, the Australian defence held strong, but by the time the final siren sounded, the Gliders had come up short – falling to China by just two points.
Merritt led the Gliders with 19 points and 14 rebounds, followed by Inglis, who collected nine points, four rebounds and seven assists.
|Results – 2019 IWBF Asia-Oceania Championships
|Game 1||First Quarter||Half-time||Third Quarter||Full-time|
|Game 2||First Quarter||Half-time||Third Quarter||Full-time|
By Basketball Australia
Photo with thanks to MSSP Michael Schwartz / Uli Gasper